Strickland's Energy Plan
Cross-posted at my new location, Ohio Daily Blog:
Faced with a utility deregulation policy that has failed to produce lower rates, and threatens to cause much higher rates if things go as they have in several other states, Gov. Ted Strickland unveiled a hybrid energy plan yesterday in a speech at the Ohio Statehouse. The governor's office is working with the Legislative Service Commission to put his plan into a bill, with hopes of getting some version of it passed by the end of the year.
Interestingly, some of the pressure to go back to complete regulation of utility rates is coming from business interests, faced with the frightening prospect of skyrocketing electricity prices. However, Strickland's plan does not do that. Instead, as reported in the Dispatch, utilities are given "the choice of returning to a regulated environment by having the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approve their rates or opting for market pricing -- but only if they can prove to the PUCO that a competitive market exists."
However, the plan doesn't stop there. Strickland also calls for requiring that one quarter of the energy sold in Ohio by 2025 come from 'advanced energy technologies,' which would include fuel cells, so-called "clean coal," and nuclear power as well as renewables like wind, solar, low-impact hydroelectric, and geothermal power. As noted in the Toledo Blade story, at least half of the alternative energy would have to come from renewables. Also, half of the total alternative energy would have to be generated within Ohio, in order to boost the Ohio economy.
The plan lacks detail at this stage, and the general reaction from all sides has been "let's wait and see." However, there are some elements that set off alarm bells even at this stage. The alternative energy sources advanced by the plan include nuclear power and coal gasification, and both of those alternatives raise serious environmental concerns. The target of 25% alternative energy may seem impressive now, but given the trend to green energy it may actually be behind the curve by the year 2025. However, the general direction of the plan is encouraging, and there does appear to be potential for broad support for the plan.
UPDATE: Todd Hoffman has video from Strickland's speech on the Ohio Democratic Party Blog.